What can I do if I am the victim of domestic violence or abuse?

I have been abused in my home. What can I do? Most victims of domestic violence and other forms of abuse have immigration options available. Attorney Alison Foley-Rothrock has helped hundreds of victims of domestic violence to become survivors and find new freedom. First and foremost though, create a safety plan (find more about that here) and talk to someone you trust.

How do I get a work permit?

To get an Employment Authorization Document – a work permit – you have to either have legal status in the US that includes permission to work or have certain applications pending, like an I-485 for a green card or an I-589 for political asylum. You’ll want to speak to an experienced immigration attorney to be sure that you are eligible before filing anything with Immigration. Filing the wrong application can put you in a worse position than you were in before, cost you time and money, and even ruin your chances at citizenship. Attorney Foley has fifteen years of experience in immigration and naturalization law and provides free mini consultations by phone. You can also learn more about qualifying for a green card (Lawful Permanent Residence) or political asylum here.

Am I eligible for a green card?

There are three main ways to qualify for a green card in the US: Business, Family, and Humanitarian. The Business category includes specialized employees or experts in certain fields, international-level athletes or performers, and certain investors. Family ties require that a specific relative has their green card or US Citizenship and is willing to sponsor you (although in certain cases, if that person has been abusive toward you or passed away, you might be able to continue on your own). Humanitarian grounds include having been the victim of abuse or exploitation in the US, fear of returning to one’s home country due to persecution, and being a victim of human trafficking or a child living in the US who was abused or abandoned. Attorney Foley can help you to understand which category, if any, will best suit you by conducting a free mini consultation over the phone. Call today to learn more!

Can I sponsor my family (or can they sponsor me)?

Green card holders can petition for their spouses and unmarried children. When a Lawful Permanent Resident petitions their spouse or child, their children are also able to gain status in the US through that same petition. However, there is always a waiting period for the family members of Lawful Permanent Residents. US Citizens can petition spouses and children too (including married children), as well as parents and siblings. A separate petition has to be submitted for each individual family member. Wait times and benefits available to family members vary widely depending on which of these categories the foreign national falls under according to the Department of State’s Visa Bulletin. (*insert link to bulletin*) Certain relatives of US Citizens don’t have any waiting period; they are known as immediate relatives. Immediate relatives are spouses of US Citizens, parents of US Citizens when the US Citizen is over 21 years old, and children of US Citizens who are unmarried and under 21 years old.

What if the person who was petitioning for me has passed away?

In many cases, the beneficiary (the person who was hoping to obtain their green card) can continue the process. For example, the spouse of a US Citizen who has been widowed can file a self-petition within two years of the death. In other cases, the beneficiary will need someone to act as a substitute sponsor. This is because the beneficiary still has to prove that he or she will not become a financial burden on the US government. Therefore, someone will need to file financial information with Immigration using an I-864 Affidavit of Support. The Affidavit of Support is a contract between the US government and the sponsor stating that the sponsor will repay any amount that the foreign national has cost to the US government. Many people worry that this will create some legal danger for the person signing the Affidavit of Support. Fortunately, this is very rare because those who are not US Citizens have very limited access to any kind of public benefits. The foreign national would have to commit fraud to get government benefits, then be sued by the federal government for the return of the funds paid out, not be able to pay it, and then the federal government might look to the sponsor to repay the money owed. One very important exception is in cases where the sponsor and the beneficiary were married. In some cases, the family courts have used the Affidavit of Support as the basis for granting alimony payments to the beneficiary when a marriage ends. If you have concerns about liability in family court, you’ll need to consult with a family law attorney and we’ll be happy to refer you to one of our trusted colleagues. We stick to immigration and nationality law because that’s what we know! If you have questions about sponsoring someone or using a substitute sponsor, give Attorney Foley a call.

Can I petition for my boyfriend / girlfriend?

If you are a US Citizen and have a relationship that you hope will lead to marriage, then you may be able to obtain a fiancé visa for your loved one. Aside from showing that you are a US Citizen, you’ll need to show that you have met in person, that you intend to get married and make a life together, and that neither of you has any criminal or immigration issues that would disqualify you. US Citizens can be disqualified from petitioning for a fiance if they’ve had convictions for domestic violence, human trafficking, or certain gun crimes. There are also limitations on what immigration refers to as “multiple filers”. If you have petitioned for more than one fiance to enter the US, Immigration starts to get suspicious that maybe you’re doing something dishonest and can ask for proof not only of the current relationship, but also of what happened in the previous relationship(s) that involved Immigration. If the foreign national has been arrested or had prior issues with Immigration, you’ll also need to be careful to discuss this with your attorney to be sure they won’t keep them from getting the visa. It’s just one of many reasons that using an experienced immigration attorney is key to success in any immigration case. Call Attorney Foley today for a free mini consultation over the phone to see if you qualify!

I am married to a US Citizen, what are my next steps?

The first step in every immigration case is the same: Meet with an experienced immigration attorney! You need to be sure that you qualify and that you are taking the correct path to avoid complications, added expense and aggravation, and – worst case scenario – making a mistake that actually results in disqualification or even deportation. Once you are sure that you qualify and are using the correct process for your specific case, the US Citizen spouse will need to file an I-130 Petition for Alien Relative (“alien” is Immigration’s term, not mine; we don’t call people “aliens”). In some cases, you will also file for adjustment of status at the same time and in others, you’ll need to go through consular processing. Which is the right process depends on specific facts of your case that you’ll need to go over with the attorney. Both processes lead to an interview where you’ll be asked to prove that you’re in a to make a life together and not just to get papers. You’ll also have to show original documents like birth and marriage certificates, divorce from or death of any prior spouses, and a clean criminal record. This requires the cooperation of the US Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident unless you can show abuse (more information on special petitions for victims of domestic violence here). To determine whether you qualify for a green card based on your marriage, give Attorney Foley a call!

My spouse is a US Citizen or green card holder, but they are refusing to help me. What do I do?

You may be able to petition for yourself or have other options available. First and foremost, you need to speak with an experienced immigration attorney who has not worked with your spouse. Once an attorney has represented your spouse, that same attorney cannot give you advice that could go against their interests. That means they can’t tell you about divorcing that person or getting immigration benefits that your spouse doesn’t want you to have. They can’t explain to you how you can get benefits on your own by proving abuse. Sadly, even attorneys are often ill-informed about these types of cases. I’ve had many clients come to me after another attorney told them that the abuse was not enough or they didn’t have sufficient proof or worst of all that the only option was to go back to an abusive spouse. Terrible advice! We have a 99% success rate with these cases and have had many approvals where the abused spouse had never made a police report or shown an injury to a medical doctor and even in cases where the abuse didn’t involve physical harm. The abuse in question might be physical, sexual, or severe emotional / psychological abuse. You may even qualify for free or reduced cost services through Foley Immigration Law’s pro bono work with the Red Tent Initiative. Call today.

I want to invest in business in the U.S., what do I do?

There are a variety of options available to investors. If you have a business in your home country that has existed for at least three years and you wish to open a branch in the US, you might qualify for an L-1. If you come from certain countries that have trade agreements with the US, you might be able to qualify for an E-2, which has no minimum investment amount but rather requires a “substantial investment” based on the total value of a business. If you have a half million dollars or more to invest in the US, you can potentially become a green card holder. Which option best suits your business and family depends on a variety of factors and you should meet with an experienced immigration attorney to go over your business plan and goals. We even offer video conferencing for our overseas clientele. Call today to set up an appointment!

How do I become a US Citizen?

If you were born in the US, congratulations! Except in rare cases, you are automatically a US Citizen. If you were born in any other country, you will need to go through some process to qualify or prove your US Citizenship. Some children who are born outside the US are US Citizens if one of their parents was already a US Citizen when they were born. If you have at least one US Citizen parent, you might also have derived citizenship when he or she naturalized. Someone who has is a Lawful Permanent Resident (someone who has a “green card”) can apply for Naturalization after either three or five years. Naturalization usually requires that the person can speak, read, and write English and pass a basic US History and Civics test. A person can be excused from the test and / or the language requirement if they are 55 and have had their green card for 15 years or over 65 and a green card holder for at least 20 years. You can also be excused from the language and / or testing if you can prove a medical disability that prevents them either from learning English or retaining the information for the test. In that case, you’ll need to present a form that is completed by a medical professional and medical records to prove that. All applicants for naturalization also have to prove continuous residence and a clean criminal record. Even seemingly minor or long-ago issues involving criminal law can disqualify a person from naturalization and even lead to deportation, so proceed with extra caution. As with all other immigration cases, the first right step is always to talk with an experienced immigration attorney. Call Attorney Foley today for your free mini consultation!  

My relative is being detained by ICE, how can I get them out?

First, find out where they are. There is an online detainee locator, but this only works if you have complete and accurate information – either the person’s “alien number” (the identification number assigned to each person who has been processed by Immigration) or their full name, date of birth, and country of birth. If using their name, the trick is to have the name exactly the way that ICE does, which can include hyphens and misspellings. After twenty-four hours, a person who is detained by ICE should also be able to make phone calls. Be sure to ask where they are and get the correct spelling of the detention center’s name. Also let them know that they have the right to free calls to both their attorney and their country’s consulate.  

Second, you’ll want an attorney who is close to the detention facility and has experience dealing with that particular court and the judges there. An attorney or firm that is local to your family, such as Foley Immigration Law, can often work together with a trusted colleague to prepare the case for a bond hearing. The attorney who is close to the facility should visit the person who is detained, get their information and consent to representation, and file a Motion for Bond to have them released. The Immigration Court will set a hearing date and the attorney(s) will present evidence that the detainee is not a danger to the community or a flight risk and is otherwise eligible for a bond. Note: Many criminal convictions will make a person ineligible for bond. This is known as “mandatory detention” and there is no way around it. If bond is denied or a person cannot pay, they will remain detained unless and until they win their case or are deported.

Once released, the person can go back home and the court that has jurisdiction over the home address will continue the case. You must notify the Immigration Court within five (5) days if you change your address. Failure to do so can result in missed notices and missing court can result in loss of your rights and even being re-arrested and / or deported. Foley Immigration Law has been representing people in Removal Proceedings since 2004 and we are ready to work hard to keep your family together. Call Attorney Foley to discuss your options today!

Have Other Questions?

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Contact Foley Immigration Law with any other questions you may have.